If the success of Big Mouth has taught Nick Kroll anything, it’s just how many people in the world have had sex with their pillows. When he and his childhood best friend Andrew Goldberg were first dreaming up their hit animated show about the growing pains of puberty, they based the character of Jay Bilzerian, who has deeply involved relationships with a wide variety of soft furnishings, on a specific friend they knew as kids. Countless fans have let Kroll know since that their friend was far from unique.
“It happens a lot,” says the 43-year-old, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth as he speaks over a video call from his home office in Los Angeles. “It tends to be men who’ve had sex with pillows, but then there’s a lot of women who talk about corners of couches, or long baths with the faucet on. Very little surprises me now. That’s the beauty of the show. It makes you realise that the weird thing you did, or that you heard about, was happening all over the place. It’s all pretty common.”
Big Mouth returns for its fifth season this week, bringing us another instalment of what The New York Times has called “the greatest work of puberty-themed art ever created”. The initial premise of the show was for Kroll and Goldberg, along with co-creators Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, to explore the confusion of their own adolescence by following semi-autobiographical characters named Nick (voiced by Kroll) and Andrew (John Mulaney) as they lurch towards adulthood under the erratic influence of Andrew’s Hormone Monster Maury, a suitably deranged personification of puberty itself (also voiced by Kroll).